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Health > Hips and Elbows

Hip Dysplasia
The hip joint is a "ball and socket" joint: the "ball" (the top part of the thigh bone or femur) fits into a "socket" formed by the pelvis. If there is a loose fit between these bones, and the ligaments which help to hold them together are loose, the ball may slide part way out of the socket (subluxate). With time, as this occurs other degenerative changes in the joint can occur  such as osteoarthritis. While this is happening your dog will be in pain, and could become lame and weak in the hind end.  This disease is progressive; it gets worse over time.

How is hip dysplasia inherited?
The mode of inheritance of this disease is polygenic (caused by many different genes). Scientists do not yet know which genes are involved, or how many genes. Factors that can make the disease worse include excess weight, a fast growth rate, and high-calorie or supplemented diets.

It is also known as:
Degenerative joint disease

Hip and Elbow evaluations are done by two organizations, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program(PennHIP).
NEVER have a female x-rayed for ratings one month prior, during, or one month after her heats cycle or a litter of puppies. It could give a false mild Dysplasia rating.
OFA has an online database that can be searched using name, partial name, registration number, or OFA number. 

Try these searches yourself to see how it works:
OFA # AS-23742E25M-VPI,
Registered name: Purestock Roundhouse Switcher
Registration number is DN06053404 or E136111

OFA Evaluations and Application

One to Two Radiographs (x-rays) of animals 24 months of age or older are independently evaluated by three randomly selected, board-certified veterinary radiologists from a pool of 20 to 25 consulting radiologists throughout the USA in private practice and academia. Each radiologist evaluates the animal's hip status considering the breed, sex, and age. There are approximately 9 different anatomic areas of the hip that are evaluated (Figure 1).

  1. Craniolateral acetabular rim
  2. Cranial acetabular margin
  3. Femoral head (hip ball)
  4. Fovea capitus (normal flattened area on hip ball)
  5. Acetabular notch
  6. Caudal acetabular rim
  7. Dorsal acetabular margin
  8. Junction of femoral head and neck
  9. Trochanteric fossa

The radiologist is concerned with deviations in these structures from the breed normal. Congruency and confluence of the hip joint (degree of fit) are also considered which dictate the conformation differences within normal when there is an absence of radiographic findings consistent with HD. The radiologist will grade the hips with one of seven different physical (phenotypic) hip conformations:

Hip Score Chart

Hip Evaluation Testing Requirements and Costs

Preliminary evaluations can also be submitted for dogs under 24 months. 

Elbow Dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they can occur independently or in conjunction with one another.

 These etiologies include:

Studies have shown the inherited polygenic traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time.

Source: OFA

Elbow Dysplasia Testing Requirements and Costs


It consists of three separate radiographs of dogs 4 months old or older.  The distraction view, the compression view and the hip-extended view. The distraction view and compression view are used to obtain accurate and precise measurements of joint laxity and congruity. The hip-extended view is used to obtain supplementary information regarding the existence of degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the hip joint.

Dogs are given ratings of:
0 - 0.3  these dogs will statistically not get any signs of hip disease.
0.31 - 0.7 (Grey zone)
0.7 and greater  these dogs will defiantly get substantial hip disease.

Source: PennHIP

Rev. 15 January 18

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